Today at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) NVIDIA is scheduled to announce GeForce 3D Vision. Using wireless glasses, an IR emitter and driver software, the technology adds a 3D effect to games running on displays that can deliver a 120 Hz refresh rate. The effective refresh rate is basically halved as each eye receives a refresh rate of 60Hz, which is the minimum refresh rate that is usually needed to deliver flicker-free viewing.
NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision
One such display is Samsung's SyncMaster 2233R, which has a 22-inch wide LCD screen and native resolution of 1680x1050. Samsung provided a loaner so we could experience the technology hands-on. NVIDIA also demonstrated GeForce 3D Vision this past summer at NVISION 08.
Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ
Other supported displays include Viewsonic's FuHzion VX2265wm along with a variety of Mitsubishi DLP HDTVs and the Depth HD 3D projector from LightSpeed Design.
The install CD contained ForceWare driver version 180.41 and stereoscopic 3D software. NVIDIA has been developing stereoscopic 3D drivers for a while now and the platform has matured. This was my first attempt at 3D stereoscopic gaming and the installation menus were top-notch. The install included connecting the IR emitter (via USB), detecting the presence of a 3D-ready display and hardware and vision tests.
Main Install Menu
The final step of the install consisted of a verification using the wireless glasses. The wireless glasses easily fit over my prescription glasses, which is a feature that was accounted for in the product design. After focusing on the image below for a few seconds, the marked section appeared in the foreground while the rest of the image appeared in the background.
Depth can also be fine-tuned as the IR emitter holds a built-in adjustment wheel.
Depth Control Wheel
After installing the display drivers and software, the control panel will have a Stereoscopic 3D section. This section contains a configuration, game compatibility and test applets.
Game compatibility is based on a profile system, which is similar to the profile system used by NVIDIA's Scalable Link Interface (SLI). NVIDIA has researched the optimal stereo settings for over 350 games and applications and made them a default within the driver. Compatibility settings consist of excellent, good, fair and not recommended. Over half of the games listed have excellent compatibility.
Game Compatibility Applet
GeForce 3D Vision has a unique built-in driver feature that adds a new crosshair at the correct depth. Early testing revealed that gamers could not properly aim at objects because the crosshair appears as two separate images for both eye views. For some, this rendered the game unplayable and severely hindered the gaming experience for others.
Wireless 3D Glasses
We tested GeForce 3D Vision at the resolution of 1680x1050 with a handful of games that included Far Cry 2, Half-Life 2, Oblivion and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. The only issue was with Far Cry 2 as the frame rate dropped into the single digits making the game unplayable. The remaining games definitely had a 3D effect and were able to easily maintain a frame rate of 60 fps on a Core i7 940 and GeForce GTX 280 in SLI. Note that this technology is only available for the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows Vista.
For additional information on 3D technology, check out David Woods' excellent article entitled 3D Imagery.